Doctors of the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Owerri, Imo State have given reasons for embarking on an indefinite strike, saying the move was to press home their demand for the payment of their salary arrears as well as redress the ill treatment meted to them.
As a result of their action, the hospital had started running skeletal services with only specialist doctors hired to attend to already admitted patience while new patients are told to go elsewhere for medical services.
In a statement made available to newsmen, the president of the Association of Resident Doctors, FMC Owerri, Dr. Thyword Agu explained that the strike became necessary after several months of dialogue, consultations and pleas which he said fell on deaf ears.
According to the president, there had been a lingering issue of September 2013 salary owed to the doctors without any concrete explanation as to what happened to the money, considering the fact that salaries were captured in the personnel cost for that month and was released to the hospitals management.
Agu said the disheartening thing about the unpaid salary was that the capitation dues were paid from the salary to the Association of Resident Doctors, the Nigerian Medical Association as well as the pension commission without any explanation as to why the main salary had not been remitted to the respective individuals till date.
Due to the delay in the recruitment of new crop of house officers in November last year due to administrative difficulties, he added, the current house officers who were supposed to finish their postings by the first week of December, 2013, were made to work for two more months till January,2014 without their salaries.
This he said was disheartening considering the fact that the salaries were captured in personnel cost of the respective months and such money had long been released to the hospitals management.
Agu added that even after resuming work in February, the house officers were made to work for three months before they could paid salaries, an act he described as inhuman and completely unacceptable.
He continued that FMC staff salaries were always paid very late in second week into the succeeding month despite the fact that vouchers were raised before 20th of every month.
Apart from these, he said that there had been lingering 13 months arrears owed to doctors employed in May 2011 and that because of administrative irregularities; they were not stepped up appropriately the following year according to the dictates of civil service rules.
Among other agitation by the doctors include removal of teaching allowances from some cadre of resident doctors, refusal to pay rural allowances to staff covering rural outposts, non approval and upgrade of promotions, deplorable working conditions, etc.
While enjoining religious leaders and the general public to intervene in the crisis to bring FMC back to its glory years, the doctors therefore appealed to the minister of Labour and Productivity and the National Association of Resident Doctors ,NARD, to intensify more efforts to bring the impasse to a permanent end.

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